Fra Alberto

However, it chanced one day that Madam Lisetta, being in dispute with a gossip of hers upon the question of female charms, to set her own above all others, said, like a woman who had little wit in her noddle:

- An you but knew whom my beauty pleaseth, in truth you would hold your peace of other women.

The other, longing to hear, said, as one who knew her well:

- Madam, maybe you say sooth; but knowing not who this may be, one cannot turn about so lightly.

Therupon quoth Lisetta, who was eath enough to draw:

- Gossip, it must go no farther; but he I mean is the angel Gabriel, who loveth me more than himself, as the fairest lady (for that which he telleth me) who is in the world or the Maremma.

The other had a mind to laugh, but contained herself, so she might make Lisetta speak further, and said:

- Faith, madam, an the angel Gabriel be your lover and tell you this, need must it be so; but methought not the angels did these things..

Answered the lady:

- Gossip, you are mistaken; zounds, he doth what you wot of better than my husband and telleth me they do it also up yonder; but, for that I seem to him fairer than any she in heaven, he hath fallen in love with me and cometh full oft lie with me; seestow me?

The gossip, to whom it seemed a thousand years till she would be whereas she might repeat these things, took her leave of Madam Lisetta and foregathering at an entartenment with a great company of ladies, orderly recounted to them the whole story. They told it again to their husbands and other ladies, and these to yet others, and so in less than two days Venice was full of it. Among others to whose ears the thing came were Lisetta's brothers-in-law, who, without saying aught to her, bethought themselves to find the angel in question and see if he knew how to fly, and to this end they lay several nights in wait for him.

As chance would have it, some inkling of the matter came to the ears of Fra Alberto, who accordingly repaired one night to the lady's house, to reprove her, but hardly had he put off his clothes ere her brothers-in-law, who had seen him come, were at the door of her chamber to open it. Fra Alberto, hearing this and guessing what was to do, started up and having no other resource, opened a window, which gave upon the Grand Canal, and cast himself thence into the water.

The canal was deep there and he could swim well, so that he did himself no hurt, but made his way to the opposite bank and hastily entering a house that stood open there, besought a poor man, whom he found within, to save his life for the love of God, telling him a tale of his own fashion, to explain how he came there at that hour and naked.

The good man was moved to pity and it behoving him to go do his occasions, he put him in his own bed and bade him abide there against his return; then, locking him in, he went about his affairs.

Meanwhile, the lady's brothers-in-law entered her chamber and found that the angel Gabriel had flown, leaving his wings there; whereupon, seeing themselves baffled, they gave her all manner hard words and ultimately made off to their own house with the angel's trappings, leaving her disconsolate.

Translation by John Paye, the Macy Library Edition.
Gianluca Gérard <>

Last updated: Feb 19, 1996